It wasn’t that long ago when Australia was the top dog of the cricket world. During much of the nineties and oughties, the boys from Down Under were unstoppable.
But even with modern cricket legends Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and the Waugh brothers (Mark and Steve), the team didn’t always enjoy its trips to India, which has always been a testing battlefield for visiting team.
Still, Australia were never whitewashed. Until now. In the test series just completed on the subcontinent, four tests were played and India won all four.
This is by no means a vintage Indian team either – it recently lost to England at home – but it is still a tough competitor on its own turf.
The manner of the defeat has provided heated debate in Australia.
Also making headlines was “homework-gate,” and it didn’t make for comfortable reading. The short version of the story behind the scandal is that four Australian players – Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja – were dropped for not handing in written answers to team manager Mickey Arthur on ways they could improve their performances.
"It took a lot of thinking because you had to look at your game and where you thought you could improve, what you had learnt and what you could do to help this team level this series," team captain Michael Clarke said.
Clarke added, "For the four players to not do it, not only does it let the team down, it also shows a lack of respect for the head coach and in the Australian cricket team that is unacceptable."
In response, some high-profile former players were quick to give their opinions as to why the decision to sack the four players was excessive.
Watson, the vice-captain who was one of those dropped, didn’t seem to agree with the way it was handled.
“Any time you are suspended from a Test match, unless you have done something unbelievably wrong and obviously everyone knows what those rules are – I think it is very harsh,” Watson said. “In the end I have got to live with it. That is the decision they have made and at this point in time I am at a stage where I have to weigh up my future with what I want to do with my cricket in general.”
If Australia was winning, it would not be a problem. But this comes at a time when the country is coming to terms with its new position in the world of cricket.
With India behind them, Australia can now at least focus on their upcoming tour of England. If they can win the Ashes, all will be forgiven.
It won’t be easy. England have won the last two series between the rivals and outplayed the Aussies Down Under during a 2009/2010 tour. But in cricket, anything can happen.